‘Zoey 101’ Star Matthew Underwood Reveals Sexual Assault, Explains Why Some Nick Actors Are ‘Staying Silent’ After ‘Quiet on Set’

“Take a moment and consider that some people might not be making statements because talking about this kind of thing brings up memories and emotions that are difficult to deal with,” the actor says

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Former “Zoey 101” star Matthew Underwood revealed on Instagram that he was sexually assaulted twice: first at the age of 12 by his friends’ stepfather and again at the age of 19 by his former agent. Underwood shared his past in a lengthy post he shared on the platform.

“I know many folks want me to respond to the quiet on set documentary,” Underwood began. “I’m going to share something with you that I never thought I’d have to talk about publicly, and it’s honestly none of your business anyway.”

The note continued, “When I was about 12 years old, I was groomed and molested by my best friends’ stepfather. I lost the best friends I’d ever had because I couldn’t spend any time with them without feeling the personal disgust and betrayal brought on by a man I trusted as a father to me.”

“When I was 19, I was sexually harassed and then assaulted by my agent at the time, who had spent a decent amount of time building trust with me as a friend and mentor. Again, my trust was betrayed and my self image crushed. I reported him to the agency and he has since been fired — although he is still active in the industry. This experience provoked my move away from LA and ended my pursuit of acting.”

“Why am I telling you this? Well, lately, many people have been blowing up my email telling me they hope me and my mom die and that we burn in hell, I’m being called a pedophile defender and all that jazz. I have spent many years rebuilding my self-image and those hateful words have little effect on me today,” Underwood continued.

“But, I imagine many of my friends in the business are being equally harassed if they aren’t joining the chorus, so I’m sharing this with hope that some of you can recognize that just because a person doesn’t shout from the rooftops that pedophiles are bad or that people can suck — that does not mean they don’t have their own reasons for staying silent, good reasons, personal reasons.”

“I have extreme empathy for anyone who has been taken advantage of by people they trusted,” Underwood wrote. “I hope they are all able to grow to love themselves and have great support from their family and friends in their journey of recovery. I also ask you all to take a few moments and consider why someone might not share their experiences publicly and not immediately shame them for reserving their right to privacy.”

“I never had a bad experience working on a set of a Nickelodeon show and I never had a bad experience with Dan. I have nothing to add to the conversation that anyone would care to hear. I like to believe people have the capacity to be better humans and Dan appears to recognize that he had been an asshole in his past. I like to believe he is fully capable of being a creator and coworker everyone can enjoy working with. I have no expectation to work with him again, this is just me wanting good for anyone who wants to be better.”

“So please, take a moment and consider that some people might not be making statements because talking about this kind of thing brings up memories and emotions that are difficult to deal with, and they have every right to be silent,” he said. “I can’t believe I even have to say this, but of course I don’t f–king support pedophiles.”

“Please stop wishing death upon my family and please reconsider harassing other actors who wish to maintain their privacy — you never know who has already been a victim of the hell you’re wishing upon them.”

In the caption to his post, Underwood clarified that his current agents Lauren Green and Sam Hampton of Modern Artists Entertainment “are incredible humans who are sincere, genuine, and smart professionals in this industry.”

More specifically, he added, “I want to thank Lauren Green for literally having my back since I was 8 years old. The only period of my life that I wasn’t represented by her, was the year and a half I had this shitty experience with this other agent. If it wasn’t for Lauren and Sam, I would never have been on a screen again.”

After “Zoey 101” ended in 2008, Underwood had a role in the movie “Reality Horror Night” the following year. He took a hiatus from acting at that point until he returned in 2017’s “The Magic Studio.”

The four-part docuseries “Quiet on Set” is about the downfall of Nickelodeon’s Dan Schneider, who famously worked with several child stars, including Ariana Grande, Amanda Bynes, Drake Bell, and Kenan Thompson. Bell revealed that he was the John Doe at the center of a trial against former “Amanda Show” dialogue coach Brian Peck, who sexually abused him.

Of the network’s response to the docuseries, Bell said, “I find it pretty empty, their responses, because, I mean, they still show our shows, they still put our shows on. And I have to pay for my own therapy, I have to figure out what — I mean if there was any truth behind them actually caring, there would be something more than quotes on a page by obviously a legal representative telling them exactly how to tailor a response.”

An additional fifth episode of “Quiet on Set” will premiere on April 7 at 8 p.m. ET.

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